5 Questions with Disney Imagineer Joe Rohde

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(previous interviews in this series can be found here.)

Welcome to another installment of 5 Questions with a 5-Year-Old. Today, Zoey chats with Joe Rohde, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Disney imagineers are like LEGO master builders. Almost everyone has heard the term but relatively few know what it really means. Who are they? They’re the designers behind Disney theme parks, attractions, shows, resorts, and cruise ships, and they’re self-described “dreamers and doers.”

What do they do? Surprisingly, Walt Disney Imagineering is composed of more than 140 unique disciplines. They’re not all artists and designers. Imagineers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and include architects, illustrators, graphic designers, writers, engineers, interior designers, multimedia gurus, project managers….even corporate and administrative support positions are considered imagineers.

Joe Rohde is currently one of the top guys at Walt Disney Imagineering. But he’s been around for a long time and has had a hand in a whole slew of Disney Parks projects dating all the way back to the development of Epcot in the early 1980s.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Ticket Giveaway: Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy

5855019_origDisney on Ice is still putting costumed characters on ice skates. Seems dangerous to me, but the performers at these shows are actually pretty impressive.

The Worlds of Fantasy show includes four separate storylines: Tinker Bell, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and Toy Story. Ostensibly, that’s two “for the girls” and two “for the boys.”

McQueen and Mater should be interesting—I’m not exactly sure how that’ll work or if there will actually be people inside on ice skates.

One thing that’s for sure, though, is that there will be plenty of familiar songs for the kids to groove along to. With these four storylines, we’re sure to at least get Under the Sea, Part of Your World, and You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

I’ve even got a nice little surprise for this one. Click here to download a coloring sheet with these characters. Enjoy!

If you’re in the Washington, DC area, Disney on Ice is returning to the area in the Verizon Center from February 11–16. Here’s the full schedule:

  • Wednesday, February 11: 7:30
  • Thursday, February 12: 10:30, 7:30
  • Friday, February 13: 7:30
  • Saturday, February 14: 10:30, 2:30, 6:30
  • Sunday, February 15: 12:30, 4:30
  • Monday, February 16: 12:30

Tickets are available at the Verizon Center box office, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000. Seats start at $20, but Roarbots readers can save $5 off tickets by using the codeword PRINT.

However! I have a family 4-pack of tickets to giveaway to a lucky reader. The tickets are for the 7:30 pm show on Wednesday, February 11, 2015. Just enter with the widget below, and good luck!

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

DisneyKids Preschool Playdate

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We were recently invited by Disney Parks and MomSelect to host a DisneyKids preschool playdate for our little guy—a Jake and the Neverland Pirates playdate, no less. Arr, matey!

Sam (like most younger siblings) seems to forever live in his older sister’s shadow. Even though we made a concerted effort to set up playdates and help Zoey (his sister) make new friends when she was very young, we unfortunately haven’t had the same energy for Sam. Sound familiar?

Well, when the package of party goodies arrived from Disney, Sam immediately knew it was all about him. And he was thrilled.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Disney’s The Little Mermaid

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Disney’s The Little Mermaid

  • playing at Olney Theatre Centre (Olney, MD)
  • dates: now through December 28, 2014
  • directed by Mark Waldrop
  • Roar Score: 4/5

Can you believe Disney’s The Little Mermaid is having its 25th anniversary this year? Hard to believe, I know. Ariel is all grown up.

Timed to coincide with this anniversary and capitalize on the perennial appeal of that red-headed mermaid, Olney Theatre Center in Olney, MD (about 45 minutes from both DC and Baltimore) recently launched its performance of the stage version.

Is it ok to use the word splashtastic? Probably not, but I will anyway. This production is very, very good.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Marvel Universe Live!

MarvelLive_stageThere’s no denying it. The Marvel Universe is huge. For much of my youth, it always played second fiddle to competitor DC Comics–who seemed to have the somewhat unfair advantage of Superman and Batman.

However, for much of my kids’ lives, Marvel has simply dominated the pop cultural landscape. The Marvel Cinematic Universe launched with unlikely B-list superhero Iron Man in 2008 and hasn’t had a flop (or genuinely bad movie) since.

Since then, Marvel and the Marvel characters have dominated the big screen, the small screen, the direct-to-DVD market, toy aisles, and now…arenas.

Marvel Universe Live! is a new production from Feld Entertainment, the group behind other kid-friendly arena shows such as Disney On Ice, Disney Live!, and Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

There was a lot of hype leading up to the premiere of Marvel Universe Live!, and I for one was very intrigued. We finally got the opportunity to see the show last weekend in Fairfax, VA.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Upcoming: Marvel Universe Live

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One of the best things about the recent explosion in popularity of the Marvel universe (aside from the movies) is all of the “extra stuff” that never would’ve happened if the movies hadn’t been such a success.

The Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. exhibit in Times Square is one example. Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Superheroes is another. The Iron Man Experience (opening 2016) at Hong Kong Disneyland is a more distant example.

Yet another is the currently touring Marvel Universe Live! Quite possibly, it’s also the one I’m most looking forward to. Produced by Feld Entertainment, the group behind the Disney On Ice shows (among other things), Marvel Universe Live! is an original, live-action arena show that brings together an impressive 25 Marvel characters.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

’Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Ohana character breakfast

Character meals at Walt Disney World can be a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the food scene at Disney is often unmatched. It really has become a high-quality foodie destination with some world-class restaurants and stellar dishes.

Character meals, though? Most of them are breakfast buffets with your typical breakfast buffet fare. Though the food is good, it’s hardly the point of the meal. In other words, families don’t go to a character meal for the food.

They’re also often on the pricey side, but if you have kids who want to “meet and greet” various characters or maybe get an autograph, you can knock out a few A-list characters in one meal and not have to waste time queuing up inside the parks. This was the selling point for us.

I really wanted to like the Lilo & Stitch character breakfast at the Polynesian Resort. Stitch is a personal favorite of mine, and the little Roarbots love meeting characters. However, we were coming off of a 17-hour day in the Magic Kingdom the day before. The kids were on very little sleep, and they just weren’t feeling it. I fully admit this was on us.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

DisneySMMoms On The Road: Philadelphia

The Roarbots blog is relatively new. It’s really less than four months old, so it came as a bit of a surprise when I was invited to attend the DisneySMMoms mini-conference for mommy bloggers last week. It was even more of a surprise since I’m a dad!

Disney Social Media Moms is run by the Disney Parks PR and Marketing teams as a sort of “brand awareness” outreach for the Disney resorts, as if they needed any help. They have a big, multiday conference in the spring, and during the summer they have a series of small, half-day conferences spread out around the country. They call these their “On-the-Road” events. This year, the events were held in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Phoenix. I spent the day in lovely suburban Plymouth Meeting, PA, for the Philly event.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Pixar in Concert

I’m a sucker for films projected with live orchestral accompaniment. My first exposure to it was when Wolf Trap performed the entire score to Fellowship of the Ring in 2008 (followed by Two Towers in 2009, Return of the King in 2010, and then Fellowship again last year)…God bless Wolf Trap, really. They’re doing the geeky lord’s business.

When we saw that Wolf Trap had only one scheduled performance for Pixar in Concert, we jumped at the chance to get tickets. I mean, come on now, who doesn’t love Pixar?

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Beauty and the Beast Musical – review

Let me be clear. I have a 5-year-old daughter who has a “mixed” relationship with princesses, particularly of the Disney variety. She likes the characters (most of them, anyway) and tolerates their presence in her toybox, but—4 times out of 5—she patently refuses to watch the movies. Ariel? She loves the character. Sings the songs. Has the LEGO sets. We also have the Bluray, but it’s still in the shrinkwrap, months after she got it. She won’t watch it.

So it was with some hesitation that I forked over the cash to get tickets to the Beauty and the Beast musical when it came to town this past weekend. Of all the princess movies, Beauty and the Beast is probably her favorite. She’s seen it a few times and enjoys it. She really enjoys the music, and she really enjoys live theater, so I figured this was a gamble worth taking.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Beauty and The Beast: The Musical ticket giveaway!

Here’s a giveaway you don’t want to miss. The touring performance of Beauty and the Beast: The Musical will be coming to the DC region June 6-8 at Wolf Trap in Vienna, VA.

I’m giving away 2 in-house tickets (not general admission lawn tickets) to the 8 p.m. performance on Sunday, June 8, 2014. Use the raffle widget below to enter.

Spread the word, and good luck! A huge thanks to Wolf Trap for making these tickets available to Roarbots followers and readers.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

runDisney Kids’ Races

Since today is the day that registration opens up to the general public for the 2015 Walt Disney World marathon in January, I thought I’d take this opportunity to report on one of the best aspects of any runDisney event: the kids’ races.

Disney bills the 5k as a “family-friendly fun run,” but 3.1 miles is still a heckuva distance for the littlest ones among us. In response, they’ve set up the kids’ runs, which have a “race” for every member of the family–right down to babies crawling in the diaper dash.

We happened to be in Orlando and at Walt Disney World last October during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Timed to coincide with that event is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. We couldn’t resist signing the kids up for a race and checking out what runDisney has to offer our youngest athletes.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Epcot DiveQuest

Walt Disney World offers a lot of tours. Most of them are very expensive, and very few are good for kids (i.e., there’s a lot of walking).

When we were last there, I took the opportunity to sign up for DiveQuest at Epcot. Basically, it’s a chance to scuba dive in the huge aquarium at Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. It may not be the Caribbean or the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s certainly a unique place to dive.

I’ve been diving in Hawaii, the Philippines, and Thailand. Obviously, this was the clearest water with the most…well-curated fish.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

The Magic Kingdom Storybook

The Magic Kingdom Storybook

  • written and illustrated by Jason Grandt
  • published by Disney Press

When I first heard about this book, I knew we had to have it. Written and illustrated by Walt Disney Imagineer Jason Grandt, who had a hand in the design of the stunning Princess Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom, this book is absolutely stunning.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

Disney: Frozen Meet & Greet

A few months ago, we made the pilgrimage to Walt Disney World in Florida and just did So. Much. Stuff. We were there for 2 weeks (not in a park every day, thank goodness), and the kids (then age 2 and 4) had a blast. I know a lot of people have taken kids this age and been horribly disappointed or upset that their kids “just weren’t ready” or were too young. We didn’t find this at all.

Zoey had already been to Disneyland in California and Tokyo Disneysea, so she knew the score. It was a first for Sam, but, at 2, I don’t think it could’ve been any better. So much of what he saw and did just thrilled him to the core.

Since the point of this blog isn’t to be the first out of the gate, I don’t feel bad about going back and revisiting some of the highlight and lowlights of our experiences.

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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.